Photo by Ildar Sagdejev, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License
A group of Greenpeace-funded journalists known as “Unearthed” conducted an investigation wherein an undercover reporter talked to Keith McKoy, a lobbyist for ExxonMobil. During their conversation, McKoy revealed that he had been working with congressmen, one of whom was Joe Manchin, to obstruct the climate-focused initiatives in President Biden’s “American Jobs Plan.” Part of the plan was for ExxonMobil to take a public stance supporting a carbon tax while McKoy secretly encouraged Congress to pass a less ambitious climate bill. According to McKoy, Exxon supports a carbon tax bill based on the assumption that it will never pass because it negatively effects every American. This way, ExxonMobil can divert attention away from climate solutions that cut into their profits by means of unpopular solutions that will never get traction, effectively keeping the country in a stalemate when it comes to climate change. Furthermore, McKoy admitted that ExxonMobil had been intentionally pushing back against scientific findings by joining shadow groups that work against climate change efforts. He did claim, however, that ExxonMobil had not buried its own scientific findings and that nothing the company did was illegal. This contradicts a 2015 investigative report by the InsideClimate News, which revealed that Exxon knew about climate change in the late 1970s about a decade before the issue became public knowledge.
Now that the summer of 2021 has brought a historic heat wave, which has reportedly killed 107 people in Oregon alone, and that a Mexican, state-owned oil company has ignited an underwater fire resembling a portal to hell, the public is more desperate then ever for meaningful policies to counteract climate change. Suspicions that oil companies use covert means to prevent climate action are now supported by evidence, and there might be serious repercussions for the fossil fuel industry. After a court ruling in the Hague, Shell was ordered to cut its carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2030. The decision arose from a lawsuit filed by numerous environmental groups, including Greenpeace, who argued that Shell’s practices were endangering Dutch citizens.